Friday, May 22, 2009

Sending a message

I wonder how Facebook decides on which ads it shows you when you surf their pages. This is what I saw today:

Exactly what are you trying to tell me, Facebook?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tools of the trade

Grad school . . . what a meat grinder. I ought to be studying for my exams, but I'm feeling a bit of burnout, so a quick post to remind people that this site exists seems like quite the remedy. Allow me a bit of navel gazing (Ha! Like you have a choice.).

As I'm studying for my exams, I find myself pawing through piles of powerpoint printouts, each covering various areas of immunology in (sometimes) exquisite detail. I sometimes wonder how this process went for PhD students in ages past. Information imparted during lectures was limited to what the professor could write on the chalk board or show on an overhead transparency. You wrote down what you could during lecture, and tried to scrape everything else from the text books. These days, it's much different. You get superfluous notes and carefully rendered illustrations (graphs, models, photographs, etc.) from powerpoint presentations. The textbooks are rarely used, as they're typically behind the curve by the time they hit the shelves.

There's certainly advantages to the new system. The professors get to share much more information, rather than focussing on the bare essentials they want you to leave lecture with. You're free(er) to listen to the lecturer rather than furiously scribble notes in an attempt to have a lasting impression of the lecture. You get to see details of the science (such as FACS plots and tissue stains) in lecture rather than having to go to the library to look up the journals.

All of this makes me wonder, though . . . do these tools make us better or worse students? Subsequently, are we producing better scientists for all of these tools?

I have no answers to this. I'm not even sure how you'd begin to answer this, given all the variables involved, but I'm quite interested in how people might respond.